Posted on: April 6, 2023

Hawaii Alcohol Laws: What do You Need to Serve Beer and Liquor?

Hawaii Alcohol Laws

Are you planning on serving or consuming alcohol in Hawaii? If so, there are specific regulations and requirements you need to be aware of. Whether you're a bar or restaurant owner, it's essential to understand Hawaii's liquor laws. Failing to comply with these laws can result in serious legal consequences.

That's why, in this post, we'll provide you with all the information you need to know about Hawaii alcohol laws so that you can serve and consume alcohol safely and legally.

State of Hawaii Liquor Laws

Hawaii is a licensed state, meaning that it does not exercise direct control over wholesale alcohol. Instead, the state establishes a framework for alcohol laws, and its five counties determine the specifics. As a result, there may be some variability in the alcohol laws between the counties.

Here are several notable Hawaii liquor laws that both patrons and owners should be aware of:

Drinking Age

The legal Hawaii drinking age is 21 years old. In Hawaii, minors are permitted to consume alcohol in a private area under the supervision of their parents or legal guardians, given that the parents or guardians are the ones providing the in such circumstances.

Moreover, in most counties, servers are allowed to serve customers alcoholic beverages provided they are 18 years old and under the supervision of someone who is 21 years old or older.

Open Container Law

Hawaii law prohibits any individual from consuming or possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, even if the driver is not drinking the alcohol. When it comes to opening containers of alcohol in cars, Hawaii law stipulates that the container must be stored in the trunk of the vehicle. However, the open container must be placed behind the rearmost seat if the car doesn't have a box.

Dram Shop Law

The "dram shop law" allows for owners of bars and restaurants to be held liable for serving alcohol to a patron who later causes injury or damage while under the influence of alcohol.

Typically, an injured party in Hawaii can file a lawsuit against an alcohol vendor for the injuries or damages caused by an intoxicated patron if the vendor unlawfully sold alcohol to:

  • An individual under the legal drinking age,
  • An individual who's already intoxicated

Hours of Sale

Hawaii liquor sale hours are restricted to certain hours. Closing times for bars and other establishments serving alcohol may vary depending on the county and the specific establishment's license.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Laws

Hawaii has strict laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol to discourage drunk driving. The severity of penalties for a DUI conviction depends on several factors, including:

  • the driver's age
  • the circumstances of the offense
  • the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC)

In Hawaii, the legal limit for drivers under 21 years old is 0.02% BAC, while for drivers 21 years and older, it's 0.08% BAC.

Intoxicated drivers can face the following:

  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Mandatory alcohol education
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Jail time

Harsher penalties will be imposed on drivers who refuse chemical testing or have a BAC of .15% above the legal limit of .08%. Additionally, subsequent convictions also come with more severe penalties.

It's essential for both patrons and owners to be aware of these laws and to adhere to them to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

What's the Drinking Age in Hawaii?

As mentioned above, the legal Hawaii drinking age is 21 years old. This means anyone under 21 is prohibited from purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcoholic beverages in Hawaii.

What Time Can You Buy Alcohol in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, the sale of alcohol, such as beer, wine, and spirits, is regulated by county and is determined by the individual counties as the state of Hawaii does not specify the hours of sale for alcohol licensees.

Generally, off-premise retail sales, grocery stores, and convenience stores sales may occur between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. every day in most counties. As for on-premise consumption, restaurants and bars can sell between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m., but some hold a special 'cabaret license' that allows them to continue serving alcohol until 4 a.m.

It's always best to check with the individual establishment for their specific hours of alcohol sales. It's also worth noting that certain holidays and events may have special rules regarding alcohol sales.

When Do They Stop Selling Beer in Hawaii?

Hawaii beer laws allow for the sale of beer at different times depending on the business type and county. For example, on-premise beer consumption is permitted between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. in Honolulu, Kauai, and Hawaii counties and between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. in Maui County. Off-premise consumption of alcohol is permitted between 6 a.m. and midnight in Honolulu County and between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. in Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii counties.

What Time Do Bars Close in Hawaii?

The closing time for bars in Hawaii also varies depending on the county and the specific bar's license. While some states don't have a mandated closing time for bars, in Hawaii, last call means the end of the night as bars must close by 2 a.m., though cabarets are permitted to remain open until 4 a.m. These closing times are uniform across the state, though there may be some variation in opening hours.

Some bars may have an earlier closing time if their license requires it, so it's essential to check with the individual bar for their specific hours of operation.

Liquor Licenses in Hawaii

In Hawaii, obtaining a liquor license requires several steps and varies depending on the license type and the county where the establishment is located. Generally, the licensing process is as follows:

  1. Complete your liquor license application
  2. Interview and investigation
  3. Attend preliminary and public hearings
  4. License approved
  5. Pay for your liquor license

Obtaining a liquor license is highly regulated and may take up to three months or more.

It's important to note that the process and requirements may vary depending on the county and the license type being sought. For example, the County of Honolulu has a different licensing process than the County of Hawaii.

For more information, it's best to check with the county's liquor commission or licensing board.

Bartending License in Hawaii

In Hawaii, bartending license requirements vary depending on the county where the bartender works. Each county and city enforce unique regulations, which may or may not require a server or bartender to be licensed.

City/County

Honolulu 

Hawaii

Kauai

Maui 

Age to Serve

18

18

18

21

Regulations 

Bartenders MUST complete Server-Training before obtaining their Certificate of Registration (Liquor Card). Servers are not required to take the training.

No regulations are in place requiring a server or bartender to be licensed.

No regulations are in place requiring a server or bartender to be licensed.

No regulations are in place requiring a server or bartender to be licensed.

More information 

Honolulu Liquor Commission site

Local City Clerk’s office

Local City Clerk’s office

Local City Clerk’s office

Some counties and employers may require bartenders to complete alcohol training courses regardless of state or city laws. It's essential to check with the specific county where you plan to work, as requirements may vary.

Improve your effectiveness in serving or selling alcohol responsibly by completing the TIPS Hawaii alcohol server & seller training today!